Fifty years ago this weekend, the Catholic Church debuted a new version of Mass following reforms made by the 1960s’ Second Vatican Council. From the use of vernacular language instead of Latin, to the priest facing the people instead of the tabernacle, the changes became mandatory at all parishes on the First Sunday of Advent 1969.
There was high-level resistance to replacing the traditional Latin Mass with a new version. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who headed and served for 32 years in the highest doctrinal office at the Vatican (later succeeded by Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict XVI), wrote an intervention in 1969 entitled “Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass.” In it, he, joined by another cardinal and several liturgical experts, warned “fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful.” [link to Ottaviani Intervention added – Editor CT]
The Pope at the time was convinced radical liturgical innovation was needed. Addressing his Mass alterations in November 1969, Pope Paul VI stated: “The results expected, or rather desired, are that the faithful will participate in the liturgical mystery with more understanding, in a more practical, a more enjoyable and a more sanctifying way.”
The results were the opposite. Since the 1960s, Mass attendance has plummeted, from around 70% of U.S. Catholics every Sunday and Holy Day
before the liturgical changes, to 21% of U.S. Catholics currently attending weekly Mass. In other countries, including much of Western Europe, the number can be in the single digits.
But after five decades of experiments and decline, there is some growth to be observed within the Catholic Church. Ironically, it is with traditionalists joining the priesthood, entering convents and attending parishes that offer the very Latin Mass that was replaced 50 years ago.
One such society of clergy, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, has seen growth even in the otherwise turbulent past year, including a doubling of
attendance at its Los Angeles parish, with new churches being established each year that quickly fill up with hundreds of families attending the old Mass. Its seminaries, completely full, often turn away applicants — a challenge shared by almost no diocese or religious order in 2019.
Interestingly, this growth in tradition — particularly among young Catholics — has occurred while Pope Francis has moved in the completely opposite direction during his nearly seven years in Rome. The Jesuit pope has chastised traditionally minded Catholics numerous times, including saying: “I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless.
“I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else.” This was said by the same Francis who, when asked about homosexual priests, replied “Who am I to judge?”
The resurgence of the traditional Latin Mass started before Francis, but has seen unprecedented growth during his papacy, a counterrevolution of sorts that some (both admirably and critically) call an alternative Francis effect. Even bishops and priests who were not ordinarily interested in the traditional Latin Mass have been much more generous and vocal in offering additional such liturgies. Two distinct wings of the Catholic Church have emerged. Often, the new versus the old Mass is a defining characteristic of the opposing coalitions.
The past 50 years have not been good ones for the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict saw this when he wrote, of the new form of Mass, “we abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it — as in a manufacturing process — with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”
How the hierarchy of the Church deals with “those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless” is a question they have not yet begun to answer. Source – Rorate Caeli
We’d dearly love to hear from those of you who are still attending the new Mass, despite the manifest evidence that it cannot possibly be pleasing to God. Those involved in creating this new Mass made clear that their aim was to remove everything that would be an obstacle to Protestants (like, for example, the very idea that the Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary). Having made the Mass palatable to Protestants, then, nobody should be surprised at the prospect of making it pleasing to pagans as well, by including the pagan rituals dear to the indigenous population in the Amazon region. What’s the bet that you will see the fruits of this latest blasphemy in a parish near you, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, USA – you name it – before you’ve had time to Google “Amazon Synod”…
On this terrible anniversary, the book Open Letter to Confused Catholics, written by Archbishop Lefebvre, one of the few prelates at the Second Vatican Council who acted to protect the traditional Mass, is well worth reading. Events have shown his analysis to be truly prophetic and it is to this Archbishop that we owe the growth of the movement to restore the ancient Mass and Faith. Click on the image to reach an online copy which you really ought to add to your “must-read” list immediately, if not sooner 😀
Finally… well… is anybody celebrating the anniversary of the imposition of the new Mass? If so, we’re jes dyin’ to hear from you…